Summer Training

We are not in love with running. We are in love with running well.

We don’t voluntarily get up every day to suffer. we don’t use running as a form of cardio. We identify ourselves as runners; whether we are those that just enjoy training or that do this to race. We keep doing this because there is something enjoyable about putting one foot in front of the other for miles.

With that said, I’ll repeat,
We are not in love with running. We are in love with running well.

Our fascination and at times obsession with it comes from us trying to better ourselves, pushing ourselves further and faster, testing the limitations of our bodies. We post about great workouts, hang medals on our walls with pride, but what happens when it all seems to be going backward. What happens when you’re caught in a slump?

We’re in a particularly hot and humid summer here in Ohio. The low in the early hours is a cool 75 degrees. It’s muggy and it’s hard to enjoy running. While  we may have prayed for summer to come quickly when we were struggling through negative temps in the winter, a couple weeks of this have really made us miss freezing. I’m constantly surprised at how my Strava feed finds new creative ways to say that this weather feels like complete hell.

As entertaining as reading those captions and descriptions are, I’ve also seen some questioning their fitness and motivation. I get it. Another day, another run that is a ton harder than it was months ago. The good days start becoming rare, and you start question why you’re out there at all. It becomes hard to get out the door when you know the next hour will be filled with you feeling like you’re going to pass out from an “easy effort”.

We romanticize running. We keep ourselves going because of our memories of great workouts, races or memorable runs. We forget those terrible blocks of time. Let’s be honest with ourselves here, running sucks most of the time. There’s absolutely nothing fun about struggling through an easy run after a race with your muscles screaming at you.  If it was 55 degrees every day and we could never feel sore we’d have no reason to not love this.

But it’s not. For the next couple months we have to fight through what seems like an endless muggy path to the next season. It’s hot, it’s humid, it sucks, but it sucks for all of us. The heat and humidity will affect your pace. There’s articles all across the web that talk about this (like this). There’s a reason that prime temperatures for a marathon are under 50 degrees, the heat makes the body work harder to try and keep it cool. Add in humidity and we have the elements really working against us. You’re not losing fitness, you’re not going backwards, it’s just hot.

We have a long summer ahead of us. When I was coaching, the two things we worked on was trying to stay healthy and avoiding mental fatigue. We tend to be very impatient when it comes to training. We jump into workouts quickly, excited for the fall and wanting to get fit now. I held my guys back all summer, slowing their tempos and regular run paces, just focusing on getting the miles in and dedicating at least twice a week to run with others. The excitement of summer training fades pretty quickly and I wanted them to stay hungry. Running was going to be hard no matter how fit they were. The goal was to was to stay hungry and keep themselves fresh.

And that’s the key here. While their peers found their motivation wavering and fatigue settling in by mid July, they continued to press forward because they were not exhausted mentally or physically. They made it through the summer training running 80 miles per week without injury and hungry to run fast. Both PR’d that season. I remember back in college when I could barely knock out 5 mile tempos at 5:45 pace during the summer only for months later to finish 5 at 5:08 pace. Keep focused, stay patient, and stay hungry. Take care of your body, get a group together to get through the long days, and find ways to motivate yourself. It’s easy to be excited about running when it’s nice out and you’re running well. These are those moments that will test you and eventually make you a stronger runner.

I say it often, summer is all about survival. Get out there and run the miles, focus on effort and keeping yourself fresh. We’re all out there suffering, but you’ll thank yourself in the fall when you’re crossing the finish line.


Dude-A-Thon: How Breweries Can Win Consumers Through Community Engagement

It’s early afternoon on a particularly cold winter day in Columbus Ohio. The state has been crushed by snow the night prior and the roads are left a slippery mess. It’s tough to drive let alone walk, with cars whipping their tails on every turn and people coming one wrong step from busting their butt on the unforgiving pavement. One would think most people would be tucked away at home, sipping their hot chocolate and wrapping themselves in their heated blankets. Not us, not today. We’ve all been waiting over a month for this event.

It’s Dude-A-Thon.


I first heard of Dude-A-Thon shortly after moving to Columbus. An afternoon watching The Big Lebowski on the big screen with one of the best tap lists in the city? You don’t have to do much more to convince me.

Wait. You’re telling me there’s a beer tasting for each screening, hosted by a different popular brewery before the movie?! There’s no way I’m missing this.

Originally I missed out on the event. I had no idea the tickets would sell out so quickly and by the time I remembered to check, SOLD OUT. With no one giving up their tickets for the event I thought I was completely out of luck. A week later the good people at Studio 35 added a fourth screening. There was absolutely no way I was missing this opportunity, regardless of the guest brewery. Sure I was missing out on Bell’s, Three Floyd’s, and Columbus Brewing Company but I figured whoever the guest brewery for our screening wouldn’t be too bad.

Madtree brewing ended up being the last brewery added to the event. I didn’t know much about Madtree outside some of their flagship beers and special releases. Their Citra High is one of the better IPAs I’ve had in Ohio and Psychopathy was a go to when I was in graduate school. I would be lying if I said I was expecting to be completely blown away with their beer. Madtree was a last minute addition and I did not expect them to be able to source anything too crazy on such short notice. I fully expected to have excellent beer but that wasn’t the priority, the experience I was coming for was the feature presentation.

I was here to watch The Dude.


We arrive 25 minutes early expecting to be some of the first people at the event. We enter finding that the party has already started. The bar is packed and filled with taps left over from prior screenings. The patrons are trying to get their fair share of what’s left over before the event starts, filling up on drinks and popcorn (mixed with M&M’s of course) to get the full show experience. Upon entering, the staff at Studio 35 do a great job introducing us to the debauchery we are about to experience. You get a glass, towel, 10 drink tickets for the tasting, and one extra ticket for the raffle.

How could you not love this glassware?!

We shuffle ourselves into the theater. We’re fortunate to have prime seating at the back with a table to place our drinks and snacks. It’s time to party.

Announcements are first. We’re greeted by a bearded gentleman in a viking hat that has an impressive way of engaging the crowd. This was definitely not his first rodeo. A quick overview of the afternoon’s festivities begins, first the tasting, complete with prizes from the brewery and related to the movie, and then what we came here to see, The Big Lebowski.  The host made it very clear from up top what we were in for:

“If you don’t have fun, well, thanks for the money.”



Flanking him on both sides are two individuals that looked like they just came from a morning at the lanes. Complete in bowling attire, one of which had an incredible homage of one of The Big Lebowski’s resident bowling enthusiasts Jesus “The Jesus” Quintana, these two have come more prepared for the afternoon than the majority of the crowd.

As it turns out, these are our representatives from Madtree, all decked out for the occasion and ready to introduce us to their beer.

Through my time in this community I’ve learned not to get too excited about “beer tastings”. Typically most breweries come with only their flagship brews. I understand the reasoning, introducing potential consumers to the beers that are easily accessible will provide these consumers with beers that they can find at their local bars or shops. It’s a great way to push beers that essentially fund your entire operation.

This was not the case here. Instead of simply bringing beers that I could find at my local bar, Madtree treats us with an excellent mix of styles and rarities. Sours, stouts, IPAs, and even a barrel aged brown. They are short and sweet introducing their beers, giving the audience what they needed to know, and if it is available. They make it no secret what beers are special to the event and what they could find at their local shop.

The Big Lebowski is great as always but I find myself talking about how impressed I am with Madtree following the event. It is my belief that the role of a brand manager is to tell a story to their consumer. In this industry a well executed tasting can convince a new consumer to seek your beer or in my case it can open the eyes of a consumer that may have overlooked your brewery. The staff made us feel like they were part of the event, not just two people trying to convince us to buy their beer. For new consumers that first impression is so important; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a friend say that they refuse to try a breweries beer because of a bad first try. Even if the styles of beer may not be to the liking of the individual the effort put in by the representative could convince them to give that brewery a second chance. Instead of seeing the brewery as just a company, a successful brewery sales representative can humanize their brand by engaging with their community. This in my opinion, is what most breweries are lacking. In a time where one does not have too look too hard to find a fantastic representation of each beer style, breweries need to find ways to stand out amongst a sea of fantastic beer. The key is connecting with the community. If your brand can stand out to a consumer, you have an advantage and while it may not seem like it, there is still some brand loyalty in craft beer.


craft beer, Uncategorized

Minorities in Craft Beer: A Response to Good Beer Hunting


“So why are we going 5 hours out of our way to go to a brewery?”

The sun is shining brightly as we’re driving through Wisconsin on this beautiful summer day. It’s the beginning of June and this is day two of my road trip from Ohio to my hometown in Southern California. Our car is quickly filling with beer as we stop at breweries along the way, trying to maneuver bottle after bottle in an already cramped Dodge Dart. The passenger on this trek through the United States is my younger brother. He’s a bit hesitant about this segment of the trip. I get it. As we travel further from Chicago, we begin to see fewer people who look like us. We’re heading deep into the country, parts of the US we’ve only heard stories about.

“Don’t you know the Midwest is full of racist people?”

For many in my community, this is the sentiment. I’ve dealt with my share of racism. I’ve been stopped for committing the crime of “driving while brown.” I’ve had one of my own teammates voice her fears of moving to a new part of the country because of “all the dirty Mexicans.” I’ve experienced more casual racism than I would like to admit. I guess wearing a bowtie makes people feel comfortable enough to voice their bigoted thoughts… For some, like my family and countless friends back home, years and years of dealing with these instances makes them very wary about trusting people outside of their own race. It’s a defense mechanism.


After another couple hours of driving, we arrive at our next destination, Decorah Iowa, home of the award winning Toppling Goliath Brewery. Upon entering, I am handed a glass.

“Clark’s sharing brews to welcome Mikkel for their collaboration.”

We make our way outside to find a tasting already in progress. It’s a full crowd of beer enthusiasts, chatting and enjoying the day, having excellent brews. There is no pushing or shoving, just a crowd of people that are actively trying to make sure everyone is getting a chance to taste the next beer that is being shared. While the crowd is friendly, it’s obvious that my brother is uncomfortable. From his perspective, it’s understandable; two skinny Latinos, who most would see and think aren’t old enough to drink, much less travel without their parents, don’t necessarily look like they belong at a brewery in the middle of Iowa. He was very slow to open up and hesitant to talk to strangers in a patio filled with older Caucasian males. Minutes later, I notice that his demeanor had changed. He was no longer uncomfortable; instead, his expression resembled astonishment at what he was experiencing. These strangers were actually reaching out and trying to make him feel welcome! While he may not have known a single thing about beer, and admitted as such, they were happy to educate him on what we were drinking and made an effort to bring him into the rest of the group. He looked right at home in a place full of strangers.

Hours flew by and we got back in the car heading to our next destination on our road trip. Our interaction following this visit is still as clear as the day it happened:

“Dude, these white people are really nice.”
“No dude, that’s beer people.”


As I stand in line for yet another beer release, it’s easy to see that I don’t characterize what one would expect a craft beer nerd to look like. As a Mexican/Venezuelan American, I am well aware that I am typically one of the few splotches of color in an otherwise white male dominated community. Living in Ohio, it’s even more noticeable. Regardless of where I’ve lived or traveled, one thing has remained true:

Craft beer doesn’t care what you look like. It doesn’t care what the color of your skin is, your sexual orientation, gender, religion, political ideology etc. This is one of the few communities that is welcoming. For a kid traveling across the country looking for his new home, I knew that no matter where in the country I was, I could find a home in the craft beer community.

It should come as no surprise that I’ve found myself pretty frustrated with Good Beer Hunting’s recent article regarding the lack of diversity in the beer industry. What could have been an opportunity to do some good for the community instead completely fell completely flat. Their attitude following the criticism they received shows that they are clueless as to what this is all about. Our issue is not at all with the topic, but rather how it was addressed. We are receiving representation from people that have no understanding about the issues at hand. In Good Beer Hunting’s discussion with The Brewsroom last night, both stated that they have no experience working for a brewery or even selling craft beer. The extent of their knowledge is in the marketing perspective of the beer industry and therein lies the problem. What we have here is an outsider’s perspective of serious issues within the craft beer culture with regard to minorities and women. Their attempt to provide a dialogue about the lack of inclusion instead became a sensationalist witch hunt, going after good people that are actually making a difference in the industry and using the plight of women and minorities as fuel for their attempt to gain clicks. I mean it worked,  I guess. I’m sure that their site has seen a lot of traffic after publishing that post.

The lack of minority inclusion in the beer industry is far more complex than some brewery employees being goofy on Instagram. With regard to their opening remarks, GBH truly misses the point of these accounts. With the industry quickly becoming more and more pretentious, it’s refreshing to see breweries let loose a little and take themselves less seriously. I know that the stereotype of the “pretentious neckbeard” bashing people for their beer choices is something that repels a lot of my friends from the community. These accounts do far more to welcome people than they do to exclude them. They are able to break away from being a business and are able to humanize themselves to their consumers. Some do cross the line, and I’m not defending those instances, but they definitely aren’t the cause for minorities feeling excluded from craft beer.

What this article fails to take into account is how important cultural and socioeconomic status are to this issue. Any marketing class will teach you that failing to do this will lead to failing marketing campaigns or, even worse, alienation of the market you are trying to attract. Craft beer already has an uphill battle trying to break Hispanics from brands that they have seen for decades. In terms of the Mexican market, brands like Corona, Modelo, Pacifico, and Tecate are ingrained into the culture. For many of us, these are the first brands we saw or drank. At this point, going to a family party and not seeing these brands would be shocking. That is not even considering the battle that beer has had trying to fight with the spirits market.

Craft beer is a luxury item. While we are beginning to see craft beer in places that were once only reserved for macro brews, we need to remind ourselves that the ability to afford an 8 dollar pint is a privilege. As of 2015, the median annual personal earnings for a Hispanic person is $25,000. While the thought of going around handing out sour brews to my local community sounds pretty awesome, the individual would most likely scoff when they heard the price, regardless of whether they enjoyed the beer or not. The wealth gap in the United States does have an effect on minority inclusion in craft beer. Moreso than anything else, this is the main reason for the lack of minorities in the craft beer community.

Dave Infante does an amazing job touching on the topic of the lack of African Americans in the beer industry in his article There are Almost no Black People Brewing Craft Beer. Here’s Why. Craft beer has always been “white,” and racism in the United States did not do much to help minorities in the beer industry. As is stated in the article, this lack of diversity has more to do with simply having an industry that began so white.

The industry, however,  is quickly changing. The Hispanic craft beer scene is growing and you only need to look to California to see how quickly the scene is becoming more diverse. If you frequent any Southern California brewery, you’ll see people of all races enjoying brews together. Sales reps are beginning to understand this too. One of my friends who works for a large beer distributor in Toledo told me just how much of a hit pairing 5 Rabbit beers with some of their Mexican restaurant accounts has been.

The issue is not that craft brewers are trying to keep us out, it’s that this industry is still trying to find ways to properly use marketing to their advantage. Where once I could only find macro brews at my local 711 back home, I can now go back and find a great mix of craft beers filling the shelves, taking away prime real estate from big beer. Craft beer will see an explosion in minority involvement with this next generation. While Hispanics are less likely to drink than non-hispanic whites, and are more likely to abstain from alcohol, acculturation can lead to higher levels of alcohol consumption. Hispanics are joining the craft beer scene at a faster rate than anyone else. All it takes is some market research to see that the breakdown of consumers is quickly becoming diversified. At least in California, breweries are taking notice and you’ll find that most festivals have some sort of craft brewery participation.

Craft beer is one of the few communities that welcomes people from all walks of life. From my experience, frequenting the “dumpster fire” that is the Facebook craft beer trade groups, no matter how angry people are or how off the rails things may get, I have seen very few, if any, racist comments or slurs mentioned. We only have to look at the Craft Draft 2Go debacle from last fall, in which the owner was outed as a Nazi sympathizer, to see how quickly the beer community comes together to eliminate these types of bigoted individuals from the community. The community is very close and does a very good job at regulating these types of situations. Racism is not taken lightly here.

This community is far from perfect. I continue to see women have a tough time being respected in the community, but this is far more a problem with the attitudes of the craft beer drinkers than the craft brewers. It’s improving and I’m seeing more and more males stand up against the misogynistic comments that are often thrown out to females in the beer threads. We have a long way to go here and women in this scene continue to have to deal with more garbage than the rest of us. The issues in craft beer are representative of issues in our society as a whole. Racism and misogyny are still prevalent in the United States.

We are aware of the problems that exist within our little community. What we don’t need is a privileged “whitesplaination” of our issues. Good Beer Hunting attempted to highlight the lack of diversity, but their lack of understanding of the issues at hand led to a lazy and sensationalist attack on breweries that actually do promote inclusivity in the beer community. I have no connection to the breweries mentioned, as I do not live in St. Louis, and the breweries would be quick to tell you that the beer community does not hold back on their criticisms regardless of how popular you are as a brewery. When people began to criticize GBH’s article, they were quick to dismiss them all, claiming that they were contributing to the problems mentioned. The irony here is GBH continues to dismiss the perspectives of the people they are claiming to champion for. I find it hilarious that GBH claims to be for diversity in the industry, but a quick scan of their staff shows no minorities. GBH writer Michael Kiser has the audacity to carry this “holier than thou” attitude toward the criticisms he has received and acts like some type of martyr for our cause, yet he is completely okay with cultural appropriation in his personal life. I’ve said this many times over the last couple of days, “we are not a tool for you to promote your business.” He spoke about our inclusion in the beer industry like it was some type of marketing tool. The attitude of GBH’s staff regarding this topic has been offensive and over the past couple of days they have continued to dismiss our perspective because it did not fit their narrative. Imagine having someone from outside of your community try and act like the moral authority on something that actually has to do with your people. That’s offensive.

Craft beer is one of the most welcoming communities I’ve been lucky to be a part of. I firmly believe it changed some of my family members’ perspectives on people outside of our own bubble and continues to impress me with its kindness and selflessness. The past couple of days have reinforced this for me. Unlike the Good Beer Hunting staff, the people in the beer community never once dismissed my perspective. Maybe they should reflect on that….



craft beer, Uncategorized

The Parallels between Craft Beer and Sneaker Culture

“Five minutes to go…
2 minutes…
10 seconds…
Alright, let’s get this bid in.
Dang it. I lost. Outbid again…”
When I was in college this was a typical routine. Scouring through endless pages of Ebay listings. Searching obscure names like “Bowerman shoes” or “Nike track shoes”. Adjusting my search constantly in order to hopefully catch a break and win shoes at a fraction of the cost from some clueless parent liquidating her son’s “old junk” without his knowledge. Deadstock OG Steaks or Marathoners from 2008 for 30 bucks a pair, copped that (The former I’m still using almost 6 years later). My collection grew and grew, to the point where at its peak I probably had over 50 pairs of just racing shoes. I was in deep and I knew it.
Then I was introduced to sneaker culture and I realized that I was just playing on the surface; the rabbit hole was deep and it was cutthroat.
In the couple months hanging with my college teammate I was shown just a tidbit of what the scene was like. Some of it was fairly similar to my experience, taking photos of new pairs and updated collections or hitting the various forums looking at the For Sale/For Trade posts or discussing the next releases. Other things were completely different to me. While the majority of people involved were simply enthusiasts, for some, this was business. Camping overnight for the latest releases only to flip them for profit was a regular thing. Counterfeits ran rampant across this scene and I learned to spot fakes. I distinctly remember heading to LA for a sale with a muscle tagging along; in this scene it was not uncommon to see people get robbed. It’s a luxury item, and unfortunately as with all luxury items, there are always people looking to take advantage.
Recently I found myself looking through Ebay again. I’ve been out of the game for almost 5 years now but with my Streaks on their last legs I’ve been trying to find a replacement for my road races. I stumbled upon an article about pairs of Promo Nike Zoom Fly Off Whites. The online sale was set for the following week.
“Just when I thought I was out… They pull me back in…”
I thought this would be easy, I’m become somewhat of a master with these things through this whole beer thing.
A tickets for Dark Lord Day? Check.
Fundamental Observation? Check. 
Duck Duck Gooze? Took a couple times but… Check. 
I have trained for this, no way I’m losing.
“Ah you think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it.”
I struck out. And instantly I saw pairs going for double retail. I looked to twitter to see people complaining about it all.
“I’m never doing this again.” 
“Why would they treat their loyal customers like this?”
“Everyone is cheating and I’ll never win.”
This looked familiar…
Oh right, this is craft beer.
Craft beer isn’t just an emerging fad anymore and from the looks of it, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. It seems like every place you go to you’ll see some kind of craft beer on tap. Chain Restaurants, bowling alleys, hell, you can even get it on tap on some airlines. Everyone I know seems to be drinking it now and new people from my past keep coming out of the woodwork, jumping real deep into this scene quickly.
When something gets this popular it’s only a matter of time until it brings out the worst in people and things get out of control.
Websites going down from the sheer amount of traffic for a limited release. Grown men lining up before noon on Thanksgiving Day for a chance at getting Bourbon County the next morning. Lines wrapped around blocks in NYC for a couple of cans of IPAs. People flying out to Anchorage Alaska for a chance to get sets of A Deal with the Devil (#BIL). You would think that after all that investment people would at least drink the beer right? Nope. Just like the sneaker scene, these are instantly being flipped, sold for maxprofits or traded for something they can’t get their hands on. Then you have those people that seem to only have these beers as a sort of status symbol. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the same people post a picture of a rare bottle that they probably kiss before they go to bed each night hoping to get the approval of some stranger from Naperville, Illinois.
“But it’s nowhere near as crazy as the sneaker scene.” 
You’re right, no one is currently getting shot or stabbed for beer, well at least not yet. This scene is quickly running off the rails though. In the past couple years I’ve seen some ridiculous antics all for the sake of an alcoholic beverage. People recapping and waxing bottles of beer with the intention of swindling some unsuspecting pour fool out of their beer. Guys leaving their kids in their car for hours while they stood in line for a couple bottles or even worse, bringing them out to releases where they end up leaving visibly intoxicated and putting them in danger. I’ve seen instances where people have bullied store workers to sell them cases of limited beer before releases or even outright stolen beers from coolers. Not to mention the daily entertainment watching some neckbeard blow a head gasket because some guy from Florida is trying to lower the trade value of their local brewery special release.
For many of us these stories have ceased to surprise us. Usually the reaction is the same now:
Beer is stupid.
The parallels between the sneaker and craft beer scenes are apparent. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying I’m against trading and such. I know I’ve done my fair share. What people do with or for their beer is their business. It’s just so interesting how two completely different scenes have become so similar. I feel like the majority of the community is most likely pleasant. There’s a reason why people like me end up hanging around for so long. There’s good people, enthusiasts, that genuinely enjoy hanging out and talking with others about these things that bring us together. Again, It’s a luxury item, and unfortunately as with all luxury items, there are always people looking to take advantage. I’ve heard the argument that this is only a fad, that the bubble is bound to break, but I don’t know. The game has to be part of people’s fascination with this.  I’m not above it. I know I’ll be on my phone waiting for the next big release.